Partners can be located together (in the same room, using the same computer) OR they may be in separate locations (as might be required by government order). This means that up to 5 computers may be calling in to the debate (2 Affirmative, 2 Negative, and 1 Judge).
The judge should not be in the same room as one of the two teams. If the judge is in close physical proximity to one of the teams (e.g. same building), the judge should relocate to a different room out of sight of the team so that both teams are communicating to the judge via videoconferencing only.
Students may stand OR stay seated.
The videocamera must show the debaters on the screen at all times during the round.
If there are spectators present physically in rooms, they should remain off camera and silent.
Other audio distractions (e.g. pets, other siblings, music, etc.) should be avoided as much as possible during a round.

Protocol for Debate Events:

1. Debaters should change their names on their Zoom Screen to their first and last name as well as their position in the round.

2. If there are spectators physically present in the room, they should remain off camera and silent.

3. Normal tournament attire should be worn, but students may choose any footwear they would like as long as their feet do not show on the camera.

4. As with normal Stoa rules, use of electronic devices during a round is prohibited except for what's needed to make the virtual debate possible: videoconferencing, communication with partner, and remote communication of evidence.

5. Teams may prep as usual if they are in the same room (ideal). If debaters are not in physical proximity with their partner, they may use their phone to text or call their partner as needed for prep time. The chat feature should not be used as it will be visible to all parties in the room.

6. Debaters will self-time during the round.

7. Evidence should be shared according to the following guidelines:

• Evidence sharing should be done using Google Docs.
• Before each round begins, please create a Google Document where you will copy/paste any and all evidence requested by the opposing team.
• Upon entering the Zoom room, all debaters should share their email addresses and add their opponents to the VIEW ONLY Google Doc.
• Affirmative Teams should share the VIEW ONLY 1AC with the Negative team before the 1AC ends. We know this is unconventional, but so is debating online! Due to the delays in getting the 1AC to Negative teams during the first cross-ex, the Negative team may not have enough prep time to adequately review the 1AC before the 1NC. Please be sure the 1AC is shared to your opponent's emails by the time the 1AC ends.
• Any other requests for evidence can be handled during cross-examination or prep time, as usual.
• Judges may still examine evidence at the conclusion of the round. If a judge should request evidence, such evidence should be displayed to the judge as well as both teams by using the Screen Share feature in Zoom. All spectators in the room should be asked to leave before evidence is shared.
• When the round is complete, debaters should revoke the View privileges on Google docs to the opposing team.

8. Forfeits:

• We know there will be technical difficulties, especially in the first couple of rounds. Please be patient and give grace!
• Debaters should make every effort to connect to the round. If they are having problems, they should contact the tournament director immediately.
• We ask that debaters test some speeches on Zoom (you can set up a free account that allows meetings up to 40 minutes long) before the tournament day, to ensure they are comfortable with the interface, to confirm their audio & video work, and their internet connection is sufficient.
• If a team does not show, makes no effort to connect, and does not contact the tournament director, the tournament director reserves the right to forfeit that team 10 minutes after the posted start time of the round.

Additional protocol for Parliamentary Debate:

1. In order to request a Point of Information (POI), students should either 1) raise their hand, or 2) use the ”Thumbs Up” reaction at the bottom of the Zoom window.

2. In the uncommon event of a Point of Order (POO), the challenging team will unmute and interrupt the speaker as per the established Parli rules.

3. During in-person Parli debate rounds, it is customary for people in the room to express their agreement with the speaker by knocking gestures or audible agreement. During this tournament, the option for expressing such agreement is to use the “Clapping Hands” reaction at the bottom of the Zoom window.


Debaters may not receive or access any verbal, non-verbal, electronic, and/or written communication, nor any form of visual assistance during the course of a debate round.


Evidence Rule Clarification

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the debate rules apply to the virtual format, and we wanted to clarify a couple things so everyone is on the same page!

The official Stoa rules for Team Policy and Lincoln-Douglas say “Evidence must be physically present, on paper, in the debate room.” This rule still applies.

Even though you will need to share your evidence virtually, any evidence you researched prior to the tournament should be printed out, and read from a paper for your speech (including the 1AC).

But, why? I’m glad you asked!

I know it's probably simpler to just read off the screen, but the judge and opponent have no idea if you're clicking to open up a pre-prepared Google Doc or pulling up a website with your internet access. There's no way for us to tell if you're reading from your evidence document, or an email that a friend sent you while they're watching the round. We know those scenarios are probably unlikely, but we're just hoping to reduce any tension or suspicion of cheating! Reading from an actual page you printed out is easy for the judge and opponent to visually confirm.

You may still, of course, navigate through your documents during prep time in order to copy-paste any evidence that needs to be shared with your opponent. We recommend pulling up what you need ahead of time so it doesn't take you too long to find the evidence you need.

Debate in a virtual setting is new for all of us, so the more things that we can do the "normal" way, the better the adjustment will be for everyone. Thank you all for helping us make this experience as great as possible!